The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) approved the final
version of the Karner Blue Butterfly Recovery Plan in August.
of the Plan describes the butterfly’s life cycle and
ecosystem, as well as the threats to its survival*. Part II
the plan of action needed to reach the ultimate goal of de-listing
the Karner Blue Butterfly (KBB) from the Federal list of Endangered
and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.
Certain benchmarks must be reached to both reclassify the
KBB to “threatened” and
to de-list it entirely. To reclassify the KBB in the Glacial
Lake Albany area, three viable metapopulations need to be established.
A metapopulation exists when populations affiliated with particular
sites (subpopulations) are distributed spatially, enabling
connected and expansive habitat. The Albany Pine Bush currently
hosts only subpopulations of the KBB.
Managing and monitoring the three metapopulations would then
be essential, and are delineated in the Plan. Furthermore,
population numbers have been prescribed. Viable populations
must have “at
least 3,000 first or second brood adults in the final year
of evaluation and in four of the five years overall.”
In addition to meeting the reclassification criteria, de-listing
the KBB requires that each viable metapopulation be managed
and monitored for at least ten consecutive years. The USFWS
that full recovery of the KBB will take twenty years.
Management and monitoring” of the recovery initiative involves
three main tasks. Establishing and maintaining a buffer against “threats
to survival” of the KBB is imperative to their safety.
Of course the insects must also have a suitable habitat in
live and multiply. Furthermore, any declines in populations
must be identified.
Both management and monitoring are metapopulation-dependent.
Each metapopulation has different influences that affect its
These conditions need to be identified and their effects determined.
Any threats would then be the subject for mitigation strategy
development to reduce the danger to the population.
Six tasks determined to be essential to the recovery of the
KBB are described in the Plan. Each recovery unit is systematically
addressed. The first task listed in the Plan is to “protect
and manage” the insect and its territory. In New York,
this means monitoring and documenting habitat degeneration
so that hardier
management can result.
The second task addresses translocation, which involves “movement
of eggs, larvae, pupae, or adults from one location to another”.
Translocation in the Pine Bush is considered a possible means
for maintaining KBB populations. Translocation involves cultivating
a population of butterflies in captivity. A fraction of their
would then be set free in a recovery unit in need of KBBs.
The rest of the captive butterflies would stay in a nurturing
of confinement and continue to reproduce.
The Plan calls for the development and proper execution of
translocation protocols. Translocation has been attempted in
a few of the recovery
units (before the Final Plan was issued). For example, eggs
from the Saratoga Airport were reared in captivity and translocated
to the Concord Airport in New Hampshire in 2001 and 2002. The
of this initiative is still being monitored.
Task three involves continued development of contributing
guidelines. Forest Management Guidelines originally developed
in 1997 reported
evaluated effects of management practices. In an effort to
share experiences and outcomes, these guidelines are available
wildlife managers and private landowners. Guidelines regarding
biocide usage, such as herbicides and insecticides, also need
to be explored and developed to prevent threatening the KBB
The fourth task identified in the Plan indicates the need
for education about the KBB. Such an outreach promotes stewardship
and is intended
to reach landowners, schools, scouts, gardening clubs, as well
as local government agencies.
The fifth task to help recover the KBB is to research the
insects and their habitat. Priority research projects include
the effects of habitat management, understanding propagation
of KBB and lupine plants, and learning the causes of KBB declines.
The final task of the Plan is to track its progress. All
research and outreach information about the KBB is collected
Wisconsin branch of the USFWS, enabling a consolidation of
be available for review. Annual meetings of recovery team members
will also be conducted to share progress, hurdles and ideas.
three to five years, information-sharing meetings that include
private landowners will take place. Every five years, the Plan
will be revised and updated to “better reflect current
conditions, and incorporate new research findings.”
The Recovery Plan is available on the web at http://endangered.fws.gov.